“How Does Life Live?”

Our new creative writing class watched the video “poem” found here, a mini-documentary by Kelly O’Brien. We wrote answers to some of the questions asked by O’Brien’s daughter and we wrote our own question poems. Below are some of our efforts.

My answer to “Can girls be robots?”:

Girls CAN be robots because girls can be anything they want to be. They can be scientists and astronauts and dancers and doctors and teachers and writers and, yes, robots. Girls can even be combinations of these: You can be a dancing robot or an astronaut robot or a dancing astronaut. We can all be more than one thing. We can choose who to be; we can choose to be versions of ourselves.

But boys are often robots because they don’t think they have a choice. They think they cannot show emotions or other boys (and some girls) will make fun of them. They think they can only love facts and not people. They think because they are boys they must not cry or be silly or be sad or be quiet. They think they have to be robots even when they want so badly to choose to be human. They don’t think they can be that version of themselves.

So, yes, girls can robots, but they should never only be robots. Because none of us should only be robots.

Emersyn’s answer to “Why don’t worms have faces?”:

For all we know, worms could have a face. Just because it doesn’t like mine or yours, that doesn’t mean they don’t have one. All we know about faces is what we can see ourselves and what we already have. We as people think that if it’s not like us then it’s not there at all. So our face could be completely different from the face of a worm but that doesn’t stop the worm from having a face. Worms can have anything they want to have and who are we to stop them? We can’t just collectively decide they don’t have a face just because it’s not exactly like ours or what we know a face to look like.

Joe’s answer to “Why do you pick a flower and it dies?”:

Sometimes we want to keep pretty things, like flowers. When we take them from where they are growing, they will stay pretty for a while, but soon they die. There are some things that we can’t keep forever, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t admire them. When you leave a flower in the ground instead of picking it, it keeps growing and gets even prettier. So sometimes it’s better to leave something where it belongs, even if it means you don’t get to keep it. That way, you can remember how pretty it was, and even come back to see how it’s grown, and that can be even better than picking it.

Ben’s answer to “Why does a heart beat?”:

A: Well, our heart beats because it wants to keep us alive. No matter what we eat or what we do, what we choose or what we think, our heart will keep thumping for as long as we live. We don’t have a choice.
Now, why does it want to keep us alive? Some people believe there’s something it wants them to achieve and once when you do it’ll slow down and rest for a bit. Others think there’s something or someone they need to protect, that as long as there is any threat to anything they care about their heart will keep them alive until the danger has passed. I, however, think the heart only beats because it’s afraid. It’s afraid of what’ll happen when it stops.
I suppose if that is true, then we shouldn’t call it “our” heart. We don’t own it, we don’t control it, and it doesn’t control us. Who you are and what you want are completely separate of what a heart is and what it wants. Having both a purpose and a heart are necessary to keeping you alive, sure, but don’t ever try to confuse the two. Your heart will still beat no matter what dream you decide to follow. It’ll only end when you do.
That doesn’t mean the two of you can’t get along, however. If you try your best to keep your heart healthy by exercising and eating your fruits and vegetables, then it’ll try its best to keep you alive for as long as it can. Your heart will have what it wants, and you’ll have enough time to think about or even achieve what you want.
So, why does a heart beat? It beats because it wants to live. Now before I go I would like to ask you a question. No, it’s not one you have to answer now, but it is one I want you to think about. What will you beat for?

Vanessa’s answer to “Why doesn’t everyone know me?”:

When we are small and young like you, our whole family knows us. Mom, dad, sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles. They know everything about you. They tell stories about you to their friends and then more people know you. The world is filled with billions and billions of people. You are just one of those billions of people. You have to make something of yourself. Nobody is known by everyone. There are some people who don’t know you and never will because in this really big world, we are just little people. Think of a beach full of sand. If you pick up a little speck of sand, that is us. When you put it back on the ground, that’s what we are like compared to people in the world. There are people down the street that you may never know, but one day they might know who you are. For people to know you, you have to put yourself out there and make yourself memorable. Being memorable doesn’t mean going famous for playing a sport or making a lot of money. Being memorable can mean making a change to the world, or doing something that you know can help other people. Sometimes it’s good to not be known by everyone. It can save yourself the struggle of being judged.

Bella’s Question Poem:

Why do you love me?

How big is 100?

Why can’t animals talk?

Why can’t I fly?

How come I like chocolate?

Why do birds eat worms?

Do bugs have feelings?

Why do we have to eat food?

How come I can’t have ice cream for breakfast?

What happens if the world stops?

Why did you smile?

Can you dance with me?

Why are you crying?

Why is she my friend?

What does love mean?

What is this song?

Why do we have to be nice?

Will you ever stop loving me?

What happens when our heart stops?

Can I live forever?

Why does food taste different?

Why is blue called blue?

How do mermaids breathe underwater?

What would you still want me if I looked different?

Are you okay mom?

Can we get a dog?

How many stars are there?

Why can’t we touch the sky?

What is her name?

How many people are there?

Why is he smoking?

What is time?

Why is her hair long?

Does she know me?

Why can I see myself in the mirror?

Where do we go when we die?


Dalton’s Question Poem:

Children are questions.

Every sentence they utter is

a question itself or

just down right questionable.

Who owns Earth?

What kind of tree is that?

Where do babies come from?

When do I get to be the mom?

Why can’t we eat candy every day?

How come a bird can fly and I can’t?

They are a sponge, wanting to absorb 

Every. Last. Drop.

How come you have a beard and I don’t?

Why does everyone walk on two feet?

When can we bake cookies?

Where did the sun go?

What do dogs say?

Who is God?

The questions seem to come from thin air. 

But then, one day it 


They are no longer askings questions

But rather you:

How did they grow up so fast?

Why didn’t you stop them?

When did they grow-up?

Where did the time go?

What do you do now?

Who are they?

Who am I?


Emma P.’s Question Poem:

Answers Wanted

Moms and dads are supposed 

to know the questions we

can not possibly begin to answer as kids:

Why do people die?

Where did I come from?

Why do I have to go to school?

Some are simple to answer,

some are not as simple:

When you die, who will I live with?

Why are you on your phone?

Why are some people so mean?

73 questions a day

a curious child asks,

hoping and hoping that this time,

they will get an answer that they understand.


what about the child 

whose questions

are never answered?


Brooke’s Question Poem:


why is grass green?

why is the sky blue?

where do babies come from?

why are people mean?

where did grandpa go?

why do cats meow?

why does daddy live with grandma now?

why do people go to jail?

how many butterflies are in the world?

what are drugs?

why do we call water “water”?

why does Alicia have no hair?

what are those pills?

can i be a princess?

why are you sad?

am i gonna be beautiful?

what is life?

how does life live?

Something You Should Know

My English 9 students and I wrote, for our first entry into poetry, versions of Clint Smith’s poem “Something You Should Know” (something else you should know is that you should read Smith’s poem). With their permission, I have provided some of the student work below.

Something You Should Know—James

Is that as a kid, I made a lot of jokes.

I talked the talk, I Seldom Stuffed the sock. 

Anything from your mother to that’s what she said, I talked and talked

But in the quiet I learned, 

Without the talk I’ve got no “walk”

Without the jokes I’ve got no “folks”

Which left me worried for the Curtains back,

To obsess over punchlines and sit in the dark, hoping like hell

that I’d have a hoot to hurl or a pun to present. That is why, even now,

I can need so Entirely to make you laugh, and why even now,

I am afraid to see myself in the silence of the spotlight,

Without a joke to tell, or a laugh to share, Exposed, In this silence.


Something You Should Know – MJ 

Is that as a kid, I was happy. 

I colored pictures 

of animals like lions, dogs, 

pandas, and elephants. 

I watched cartoons that continued 

to amaze me even after seeing them a thousand times.

Which left me dumbfounded by the thought that I had

to grow up, to be mature, to go to school, 

to dress myself, to be a big kid. 

Perhaps that is when I realized 

that I couldn’t be a kid forever. Perhaps 

that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to be a kid again, because I’m afraid 

of growing up, exposed, in the adult world. 


Something You Should Know–Elisha 

Is that as a kid, I was a tech intern.

I fixed Chromebooks

of students like middle schoolers, freshmen,

juniors, and seniors.

I watched students continue 

to crush their Chromebooks, crack their computer

screens, then complain about them.

Which left me upset at the students,

to intentionally break their computers that way, reflecting their attitude. 

Perhaps that is when I became so quick to judge people. Perhaps

that is why, even now, I can need to desperately

let things go, but am more afraid

of meeting myself, exposed, in His judgment.


Something You Should Know—Sophia

Is that as a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist.

I  dug for dinosaurs

From the Jurassic, Devonian, Cretaceous, 

Mesozoic, and Cambrian periods

I watched as my hands continued

To pry objects from the ground, deftly dusting dirt from them

Examining the possible fossils,

Which left me disappointed when they were only rocks,

Ordinary pieces of earth that had never been full of life

And had never walked the ground that I now walk.

Perhaps that is when I first became wary of trusting.

Perhaps that is why, even now, I can want something

With all my being, but barely let myself hope

For fear of being let down.

Left vulnerable and exposed,

Wallowing in my own disappointment.


something you should know—Macy S.

is that as a kid I always wondered about the future

I imagined

where I would be

what I would be doing

where I would be going

 the past always gets me

which leaves me worried about the present

to be worryless

about what’s in front of me

worryful of what if

perhaps I should look

at what is in front of me

perhaps let go of worrying about the past and future

that is why, even now, I try to forget

and live in the exposed now version of me


Something You Should Know—Aubrie

Is that as a kid, I played with my siblings. 

I dressed the dolls

Of different varieties, baby dolls, Barbies, American Girls, 

and Polly Pockets.

I watched my brothers continue

 to run, jump, play, and pretend they were plummeting

to from a peak and pretend all again. 

Which left me sad that I couldn’t play, 

and upset I was alone for a few days.

To need my siblings there by my side.

Perhaps that is why they became my best friends. 

Perhaps that is why, even now, I need them so desperately, 

but am more afraid of meeting myself, exposed, without them.


Something You Should Know—Kennedy

is that as a kid, I decided to play basketball.

I didn’t understand the rules

of the game because I didn’t play any sports like volleyball, softball, 

soccer, or track

I watched the coach as he continued

to explain things like how to dribble, pass, and 

how to make a layup by hitting the corner of the box on the backboard,

which left me so scared because I didn’t think I could do it, 

to get the ball that high, to even get it into the net seemed impossible

to live her entire life trying to succeed at one easy task

to feel good enough. Perhaps that is when I became a person who 

tried to please everyone before my self. Perhaps 

that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to make sure everyone’s happy, but am more afraid 

of caring about myself, exposed, in this world.


Something You Should Know—Macy T

Is that as a kid, I loved strawberry shortcake.

I smelled the hair

of the toys like strawberry shortcake, orange blossom,

lemon meringue, and plum puddin.

I watched the peculiar purple pieman of porcupine peak continue

to steal strawberries and watch strawberry shortcake

To eavesdrop on the information of Strawberryland.

Which left me concerned that he was going

to ruin their plans, 

to take her strawberries for his own,

to feel evil. Perhaps that is when I become obsessed

with my strawberry shortcake pillowcase. Perhaps

that is why, even now, I can’t always trust people

even if they say they are on your side

of the fence, rejected, by their personality,

Exposed, in mine.


Something You Should Know—Emma K


is that as a kid, I wanted to play sports more than anything.

I watched games

that involved sports including basketball, volleyball, 

softball, and dance.

I watched the majority of teams continue

to immensely improve and impressively win

with the help of multiple good plays and mistakes made by the opposing team.

Which left me sympathetic for the other teams, 

who had to repeatedly find out what they did wrong, 

and realize that they may be unable to fix their mistakes, to be

embarrassed. Perhaps this is why I’m constantly afraid 

I’ll mess up and become embarrassed in front of my peers. Perhaps 

this is why, even now, I can want so desperately

to fix my mistakes and continue trying, but am more afraid

of meeting myself, exposed, in front of my peers.


Something You Should Know—Bryton

Is that as a kid, I liked building with Legos.

I built models

of big things like houses, ships, 

rockets, and airplanes.

I pretended to fly the airplane

across oceans, seas, continents, countries, and cities around

the world in search of new places.

Which left me in awe of exploration, 

to fly around all free that way, to get 

to live my entire life exploring the world 

to feel joy. Perhaps that is when I became fond

of exploring the woods. Perhaps

 that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to stay inside all day, but will eventually 

meet my previous self, exposed, in the smell of nature.


Cracking The Bell by Geoff Herbach

Note: I received an advance copy of the book from the author.

I was finishing this book as news broke about Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement from the NFL, and I couldn’t help but see the connections. Isaiah in Cracking the Bell isn’t a multimillionaire with a degree from Stanford—he’s a high school senior with a history of concussions in his life. Literal concussions from hitting and being hit in football. Figurative concussions from the deaths of family members and the unresolved grief that follows.

But like Andrew Luck, Isaiah grapples with questions of what is worth risking for football. Questions of what we walk toward and what we walk away from. And author Geoff Herbach raises the bigger societal questions of football’s role in our culture and our construction of masculinity. To Herbach’s credit, Cracking The Bell is not simply a jeremiad against football—the novel recognizes how concussive young lives can be, inside and outside of football, and how football has served as a place of recovery as well as a place of pain.

As a conflicted football fan myself, I appreciate how well Herbach captures the game—too many novels involving sports fail this first hurdle. Cracking The Bell is thoughtful, timely, and more lyrical than I expected. I will be sharing it with my high school freshmen tomorrow.


Talkin’ Bout Their Generation

Last semester my Media Literacy students took part in the Show Us Your Generation photo contest run by The New York Times; even though the contest has closed, I still wanted this semester’s students to create their own photos and “artist statements.”

The images and words below are used by permission of the students.

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My generation has fully immersed itself into the world of social media. Our worlds revolve around streaks, tweets, DMs, and notifications. We hold our future world in our hands and it is up to us what we do with it. The fact that it is up to my generation, who is “holding” this fragile ball we live on, what happens to our world means we have to face a harsh reality. This harsh reality being my generation only sees things like social media in color and the rest is in black and white, or irrelevant to us. —Megan

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When I first thought about what I wanted my picture to be about, I couldn’t think of anything off the bat— but later on I was hanging with friends and one of them told me, “Von I heard so much about how your a bogus person and did people dirty and honestly you’re not like that at all, goes to show people will talk bad on anybody.” And that really stuck to me and it made me think how this generation judges people so much about what’s on the outside or what they hear about someone, and really you never know the true nature of a person until you read them, get to know them, do more than just assume, I know it’s pretty cliche, but it should be a lesson everyone should take part in and to not judge a book by its cover—you don’t know someone else’s story, so why should you assume you do? —Von

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I took this picture of my sister. She is in eighth grade, she is almost fourteen, and she loves her phone. There are four main reasons why I chose this picture.  First, I chose her to be in my picture because she is always on her phone or some other device. I can really tell that things have changed in middle school since I have been there because I never had as many cyber bullies, or rumors, or people getting made fun of because of what they post. Second, I took this picture because it gets our attention about how the internet is taking over our lives. Many people have more than one device. My sister has an IPhone, Apple Watch, computer, and IPod. Third, because she just got out of the shower and she was already on her phone before she brushed her hair. The fourth reason is that our dog Daisy was trying to get her attention before I took this picture but my sister ignored her. —Abby 


This photo speaks volumes of both how we have advanced as a society but also how those advancements can consume us. In the picture, you see two high school students back to back emotionless doing their work. In the background, you see an empty library that is no longer relevant due to the investments we have made to online learning and our research tools that are now available. You can see that this is both a good and bad thing because the work is easier, but doesn’t that also mean people are getting lazier? Also, technology can be used to help them be more social but it’s just facing two friends away from each other until their desire for screen time is met. —Jaxon

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In 2019, teenagers of my generation are misjudged for not having a voice, but I believe my photo depicts these misconceptions. Even though I could have done a whole shot with multiple people, I chose to do a selfie with duct tape because it shows that we have a voice and aren’t going to be silent anymore. The duct tape itself represents that the tape is used to shut people up because they don’t want to hear their reasons or complaints.  Also, I decided to do a selfie because it still shows that teens do take photos of themselves to express their thoughts and feelings. I decided to edit it in black and white because it is usually the older generations that silence or create those stereotypes. As for the message, I want it to say that teens do have a voice in this world. For me, I always tell myself to express my feelings and thoughts because it could help someone in the future. I am involved in the newspaper, so that means I can express my beliefs. With the photo, this shows that people have thoughts to express, but they hold them in because social media or others tell us that we are less than. As our generation becomes more vocal, others will start to accept our views and beliefs. —Emerald


When I took the picture we are all sitting around each other and not communicating because we all have technology, we all have cell phones, so instead of communicating, we were all buried in our phones ignoring everyone and everything around us. We had books around us, we had computers, and we also had each other. I feel that many people with technology and phones are doing this—there is a whole other world in the screen of the phone, a world no one can interrupt when you are really concentrated with your phone. —Nethaniel

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In this picture, my older sister, her boyfriend, and I are all laughing at a meme. I’ve learned that one of the only ways to start a conversation with my peers is to show them or send them a meme. I don’t remember what meme she showed us, but I do remember us laughing and talking about it for a long time afterward. A couple minutes before taking this picture, none of us were talking to each other. We were in our own little worlds, sitting and staring at our devices. In my opinion, this picture and the story behind it represents a part of our generation. If we find something funny, we share it with each other.  —Vanessa

Show Us Your Generation Photo and -Artist-s Statement.- (Mar 26- 2019 at 11-55 AM)

When I thought of my generation, I thought of all the negative connotations we have. I almost folded into that and made a high contrast black and white picture where only my phone was lit up. However, I see the positives in us, and I’m proud of the generation I’m a part of. We care. I genuinely see my generation as the most progressive generation ever seen, as we should be. With that in mind, we also care about who and what we came from. My picture is me on a bench and under my arm immortalized in a plaque is the name Shirley Kirsch. It’s important to me because I never got to meet my grandma Shirley. She died at 48 more than a decade before I was born She means a lot to me still, and that’s why I chose it. She has influenced me without meeting me. I have her initials on my cleats; I do things to honor the ones I love, and I love my grandma without knowing her. —Carson

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Growing up, our generation realizes that we need to look more and more like a stereotypical human. People start to change their hair, clothes, and personality to look and act like their role model or idol. They start to discriminate against themselves, making them believe they aren’t enough. Our generation is so used to judging—people turn to social media to see how one should look and act like. —Abby

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She was sitting in classes and I decided to take a picture of her while she was using her phone because I think our generation is constantly on a cell phone. Many teenagers spend hours and hours on their phones as if that were all of their lives. This is my idea of ​​the generation in which we are living, I think that we all spend a lot of our time on our phones today. We teenagers know that we spend time on that but even so we can not stop because it is something we have become accustomed to. We have become accustomed to living with a phone in our hands as if our phones were the solution to all problems. But the reality is that phones are the biggest of our problems because we can rarely have the attention of people. —Marie

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As a teenager, you are required to fit certain criteria. You have to do what other people do and dress a certain way. My picture shows a very pretty girl wearing a sweatshirt and leggings, standing by a poster. The poster reads, “Strangely enough, some students come in here to put crap into their bodies.” This means that in our generation, there are certain kinds of pressure. The pressure to be cool and liked, and the poster means that there are some students coming in the bathrooms to juul or vape. There is a lot of pressure to be popular.  —Molly

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Honestly, I think the media portrays my generation correctly. A lot of people like to think that the media is too hard on us and “don’t get it,” but that actually isn’t true. My generation relies almost solely on technology for everything. I took a picture of me listening to music while on my phone while searching the web on my Chromebook. I think that picture describes our generation perfectly. I will admit, I am obsessed with technology as much as everyone else, but I accept that. I bet a lot of other people’s representation of our generation will be doing them doing something productive, or something without technology to show that they think the media isn’t right about how they describe our generation. Being a teenager in this generation is based on technology for the most part. If you don’t know something, look it up; if you want to talk to someone, text them, snap them, DM them. People have done away from the real-life experiences that past generations have used and I think that is a rising problem. —Tory

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I took this picture to show what I do in my free time—it’s not sitting inside on the web, it’s outside working on vehicles, driving my older vehicle or just messing around in the woods. I used to be addicted to my phone, but now I’ve matured and I don’t care if I lose my phone. People know how to get ahold of me and if you don’t then there is probably a reason for it. I get on my phone during the school but when I get home I use it for one thing and that is to look up diagrams for wiring or diagrams for a vehicle or part that I’m working on. I will use my phone as a flashlight but a lot of people will tease me that I got an old iPhone. Well they all have brand new phones, and I just tell them if I drop it, it won’t break and that it fits in my pocket. Then they normally shut up and walk away. —Tyler

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This picture represents the use of technology in my generation. Everything around us is technology. For example, whenever I’m doing my homework, I have my phone by my side, and I usually get sidetracked by the Snapchat notifications. Computers are also used by everyone in the school, from just checking emails to doing homework. —Maddi

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Athletes nowadays have a lot to juggle if they plan on going to college to play sports. We athletes have a lot of expectations when it comes to on and off the field. On the field the athlete has to show up and show out; they’re put on that lineup because of their skills and if they mess up one time, they’re more than likely replaced. If they want to keep the skill, they have to practice and put extra work in. They also need to get bigger and show dominance so they go to the weight room and give all they got every single rep. Off the field is where the most challenging part comes. Staying focused in class, doing homework and staying up late for tests the next day is all in an athlete’s schedule.  Overall people think it’s easy to juggle the schedule we have when in reality it’s one of the hardest things an athlete goes through.  —Marcus

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I decided to capture the reality of my life specifically because to me this is what teenage life is like. For those who want to use this to show that teenagers don’t spend an extreme amount of time on electronics, I’m definitely not the right person to advocate for that. I spend a copious amount of time on electronics every day, and that’s just what I wanted to show. I think this photo actually represents teenagers as a whole when disputing the idea that we aren’t glued to electronics. The monitor mounted on the wall has a fish tank on the screen, while the lower monitor shows the home screen of an Xbox. A lot of us try to give the impression that we spend more time outdoors than anywhere else, or we enjoy connecting with nature on a daily basis, but in reality, it always comes back to technology in the end. Hence, I had nature in my photo, but it was captured within technology because overall technology controls everything in the current day. I had the second monitor with my Xbox screen to show that I realize that I am a perfect fit for the teenage stereotype. But, that stereotype isn’t the only dimension of my personality. I have friends, we interact on a daily basis almost constantly with Snapchat and other platforms. It just so happens that we as teenagers have access to something that allows easier connection with friends. —Levi

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There are so many struggles when it comes to being a teenager in 2019. One of many includes doing good in school and balancing that with social media. Every teenager in 2019 wants to be considered ‘cool’ on social media and wants to be associated with the ‘cool people’ on social media. Balancing school work with also struggling with how to be cool and how to have a life, when your phone is constantly blowing up with notifications is truly hard. I find myself struggle with this all of the time. Whether it’s a Snapchat from a friend or a quick Facetime call, there are always ways for your friends to contact you or ‘bother’ you when your time should be spent doing other more important things. Another struggle that most teenagers have is how to spend less time on social media to keep parents happy, but at the same time keep a high status on social media. Being able to balance your ‘high’ status on social media, and trying to keep parents off your butt for being on your phone too much is truly a struggle. We as teens always feel like we have to be in ‘the know’ and updated with everything that’s going on in the world of social media. These are few of the many struggles that parents and people who aren’t teenagers in 2019 don’t always fully understand. —Kena



Words half-read

Words half-heard

Conversations half-remembered


fully believed


all the time

so we can have the time

we never have time for

as we exponentially decay

To-Do List Poems

Our literature elective class and I wrote poems modeled on/inspired by Jen Hofer’s “future somatics to-do list” and her notion of “a poem that is a to-do list that is a poem”(read the original here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/future-somatics-do-list).


Carter’s poem:

Normal To-Do List 

Go to the store.

Get milk.

Get macaroni and cheese.

Get treats for that get-together.

Get treats for just myself.

Finish that poem for class.

Finish that essay for class.

Get milk please.

Don’t worry about the past.

Get cereal.

Clean my room.

Don’t think about the past.



Charge laptop for classes tomorrow.

Learn my lines for the play.

Think of the future.

Be anxious of the future.

Get milk.

Finish writing

treats for the

Think of


Do cry.



Crawl up

Do cry.

Go to

poem for


to the store.

my room.

Charge laptop

for class.

Calm down.

Take your medication.




Erin’s poem:

“A To-Do List”


What kleenexes are best for wiping away tears?

Where in the body does loving take place?

How to move on from losing someone?

Where to buy flowers?

What is a good store to shop for black dresses? The silky, long ones, the short cocktail ones, the poofy ones, short sleeve, long sleeve, middle?

How to be there for family?

Who do we consider family? Is it the ones we love the most? The ones who are blood related?

Why do we cry?

Where in the body do we forget?

Where in the body does grieving take place?

Where in the body does loving take place?

How to write a mournful speech?

What are the best memories?

What are methods to cope with grieving?

What are the best types of headstones?

What do we say to express condolences? I am so sorry for your loss, they will be deeply missed, they were a wonderful person?

Where do tears come from?

How to get the red puffiness to go away?

Where to get good waterproof makeup?

What photos are good?

Why is it so hard to lose a loved one?


Klaire’s poem:

“how to find your worth: a to-do list”


Wake Up.

am I really worth it?

convince myself I am.

(you’d never know,

I can’t stand my reflection.

maybe there’s a reason I never told you,)

I have questions for you.

ask myself why you’re so interested in me

how does one go day to day waking up happy?

tell myself I am beautiful.

can you tell me you believe in me?

paint on your smile.

what is my worth?

who is worthy of me?

am I wrong to feel?

what am I good for?

why do I break and shatter?

why me?

cry under the covers.

think about all the happy things in life,

then cry some more.

finally tell myself

I am worth it.

Fall Asleep.



Melina’s poem:

“Life: A to-do list”


what is life all scratched up to be?

what is the most important thing?

is it adventure?

do adrenaline and experience control your quality of life?

is it triumph?

do your successes determine how happy you are?

is it happiness?

do the highs in your life show how far you’ve come?

is it love?

blood or otherwise, do these people accentuate your virtues?

is everyone’s answer different?

is everyone’s answer the same?

does anyone have more than one answer?

does anyone have hundreds of answers?

does anyone really know for sure?

or is everyone simply in a state of oblivion?

and that’s not all.

because after life comes death.

what about death?

where do we go?

what is made of our souls?

or our bodies?

what determines whether we lived a good or bad life?

is it the same subjects as the living?

which is more dreadful?

to be alive in a state of unknowing?

or to simply be dead?


Sadie’s poem:

“Losing: A to-do list”


Did you have to look at me that way?

Shame, regret and disappointment bleeding together.

Did you have to frown that much?

A small rainbow sitting on your face, but grayed out.

Did you have to strike me?

A red handprint now sits on my cold cheek.

Did you have to shout at me?

Your voice cracked a few times.

Did you have to take those clothes?

We bought them together once.

Did you have to call me that?

I thought you promised to never call me that.

Did you have to turn sharply?

You seem to hate the sight of me.

Did you have to leave?

You could’ve given a better explanation.

Did you have to leave out what I did?

I don’t even know what I did.

Will you please come back?

I’m all alone.


Mr. Polking’s poem:

“Past Tense: A Was-Done List”


Did I return your message?

Did you return mine?

Did we speak in person?

Were you “fine”?

How long did we maintain eye contact?

Did we listen?

Were you smiling?

Did we soften?

Did you fall in the forest?

Did I hear you?

Was our love star-crossed or merely lost?

Did we stumble or were we pushed?

Did I mumble or did I crush words together,

A portmanteau of pre-emptive strikes

Against the possibility of more?

Theme in Red

With credit to The Crucible, Carl Sandburg’s “Theme in Yellow,” and the 2015 film The Witch, here is my creepy Halloween poem:


Theme in Red


I stalk the fallen leaves

With reddish work at night.

I light the eerie mist,

Sulfuric in my intent

And I am called Old Scratch.

On the last of October

With the scrim of dusk hoisted

Upon us

Children clamp and cower,

Me circling around them,

Offering plaintive pleas

And love to the sullen moon;

I am a hoofed beast

With feral teeth

And the children know

I am not fooling.


“Dost thou wish to live deliciously?”

Songs of the Season

My high school literature elective class recently worked on poems inspired by/modeled on “The Blower of Leaves” by January Gill O’Neil. Read the brilliant original poem here: “The Blower of Leaves”.

Below are my version and student versions (used with student permission).


The Blower of Snow

Always there are flakes after flakes waiting to fall.

An infinity of alabaster, swirling in


the fading December sun, glazing my eyes

In a welter of white. My driveway is their destination.


Today I kneel to the feeling of possible grace,

the beauty of what’s unseen—the holy world


of our work made harder without you,

while the soft kiss of snowfall caresses the ground.


I am a fool. Even as the wan sky feebles and falters,

it is still lovely. I scan the creeping maw of dusk


for its remains. All this time I was praying

to a forgiving God to absolve us,


but really I was hoping for you to be enough.

It was a failing that whirled inside me,


a bleak symmetry, a synapse of grief pulsing enough,

enough. How I had conflated it with survival.


I can forgive the snow covering the bare maples,

the blade of the plow scarring the grass,


but without you there is no forgiveness.

Only silence. Only the sky’s dying cover


And ice masquerading as purchase.

Nothing is ever easy or true,


except the snow. It falls.

Dependable as a season.


Klaire’s “The Grower of Roses”

Always there is sky after sky waiting to grow.

The luminosity of the light


in the April sun, blinding my eyes

in a curtain of color. My yard is their landing strip.


Today I bow to the power of positive space,

the beauty that is now showing–


the hard work of yard work

paid off with you,


I am a fool, thinking I could do it alone.

As the ground warms, the roses grow.


There is no more snow. All this time,

I was just waiting for you to tell me


that I was enough.

It was a feeling that swirled inside me,


my blood pulsing for you to say I was enough,

enough. How I had mistaken your hidden love for unhappiness.


If I can forgive the wind blowing branches over our roses,

crushing them, after they have grown,


I can forgive you for hiding

the love you have for me.


It’s time to grow.


Sadie’s “The Catcher of Blossoms”

Millions of blushing petals falling to the ground.

they flood my vision and bring forth a smile


that they gladly carry even as they land

on the rigid earth. They carry so much more.


Today I lay and offer prayer to falling petals,

the plea to fill what’s missing–the feel of you.


I’m a fool. Even as red stains the freshly fallen petals,

they cannot offer me healing. I stain their lovely color


with my life essence. All this time I was waiting

for you to tell me of your hopes and dreams,


but really I was waiting for you to say listen.

It was a feeling that gnawed at my heart,


as though my heart were wood for a beaver.

How I had wished for that happiness to come.


I can forgive the many petals that land on my clothes,

the drops of rain that soaked me to the bone,


but with you there is no forgiveness.

Only hate. Only the growing vengeance


And hate keeping me alive.

Nothing is ever pure of heart,


except the blossoms. They all bloom.

Much like love and hate do.


Erin’s “The Falling of Rain”

Always there is rain after rain waiting to flood.

A million raindrops falling onto


The vibrant green grass, leaving its

Diamond glitter. My yard is the store.


Today I woke up to the power of rain,

The beauty of what’s missing- the sun


The sun hiding behind the clouds,

While the rain falls to the ground.


I am a fool. Even as grass grows stronger

They still break. I feed the gaping mouths of the mower


With their remains. All this time I was waiting

For the sun to shine above us,


But really I was waiting for you to apologize.

It was a feeling fluttering inside me,


An overcast, a hurricane of the sadness,

How I had mistaken it for happiness.


I can forgive the weather,

The mud and puddles,


But with you there is no forgiveness.

Only forgetting. Only the lawn not being mowed


And weeds dancing in the wind.

Nothing is ever easy or true


Except the rain. It floods.

Dependable as a season.


Carter’s “The Roasting of Rays”

Always there is sun, causing shimmering

simmering light. The kids swimming in


their phony, periwinkle, plastic pools.  Teen

girls sitting in the sun. Adults too busy


working to have any fun.  

Rays of really resplendent radiance running to the earth.


Creamy clouds crawling cross the sky,  

relieving the sun with a relaxing rest.


High schoolers sleeping in late in their

calming, comfy cots.  Messing with their


perfect phones, proudly pretending to know pleasure,

but knowing nothing but pessimistic pain.


Summer showing nothing but somber sadness,

feeling sorry, yet showing nothing.


High school students submit to the sorrow of school.

Summer is stopping.


Sadie’s “The King of the Mountain”

Birds let out their cheerful song

into the warm throne room. Golden petals


filled the empty comforting air. These flowers

have been blooming since the prince died.


Today he thinks of who he all lost

all those years ago because of the humans.


Water flowed from his watering can,

mimicking the tears his family shed


all those long, painful years ago. He felt

empty as he thought of his once perfect family.


He’s a fool. Even as hope dwindled in the monsters,

he pledged war against the humans.


The very creatures that trapped him and his people,

were also going to free them


with their strong souls. All this time he was praying

that no more humans would fall down,


but really he was praying to free his people.

It was a sorrowing feeling that devoured him,


like his heart was butterscotch cinnamon pie.

How he wished for his former life.


He could forgive his wife for leaving him,

the humans who killed his children,


but with himself there was no forgiveness.

Only blame. Only his golden flowers


And chirping birds to comfort him.

Nothing is ever whole or complete,

Dreams they complicate my life

Last night I dreamed of dust and distant thunder.

Summer dust shuffling into openings, settling onto all inert objects.

Dust as solar tears;

When your tear ducts dry, you suffer.

Last night I woke and did not cry;

I woke and heard the rain drip, descanting into the darkness.

Last night I slept and wished for more.

As with eating, we have forgotten how to sleep, two fundamental acts of living:

We complicate what should be simple & simplify what should be complicated.

Last night I woke and saw intruding headlights.

As a child, I needed light to sleep—

Now our days and nights slip the grout and become a seep:

I wake without waking and sleep without sleeping, drowsing through the deep.